Categotry Archives: Work Experience

Jess in the Office

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Written by Jess Smith, Volunteer Office Assistant and TRS Teacher who was voted TRS Teacher of the Year 2019 by fellow TRS Teachers. 

At TRS we believe that volunteering should support the artist’s career and not be free labour.

I started volunteering in the office because I was debating to start a franchise and wanted to find out more about working in the self-employed office. I wanted to learn about invoicing, communication with organisations, filing and the general upkeep of a dance business. I feel I have learnt this while volunteering, and this could not have been done without the help and advice from Rebecca, Georgie and Georgia. All three of these lovely TRS office staff have informed me of details I needed to know, corrected me when tasks needed to be improved and guided me through my journey. I have been in the office since September 2019 and working in this environment with these lovely people has helped me make my decision to start my franchise. Thank you to all three of you. 

Whist working in the office I have learnt how to properly file when you’re self-employed. I did not have knowledge of working in a self-employed environment. I have learnt the intensive filing system behind being self-employed and the importance of keeping track of everything. I am still quite new to the system and was unsure on what I needed to do, being here amongst others who are already self-employed really helped me understand the system.

I have also learnt how to create invoices for businesses, ensuring the information is correct and concise. I have learnt to double/triple check all details whether entering information in to the company database or creating invoices.

I learnt how a dance business is run, how to have proper communication with other businesses and I learnt about invoices. I have understood more about how I can help the business in different ways, for example volunteering, offering help with general office tasks and providing support to teachers.

As a result of working in the office, I have gained more regular work and cover work. As communication occurs within the office, it is easy to identify a problem and sort a solution, occasionally the solution is to offer my time. I have offered solutions that may not benefit me but will benefit the company, for example offering to travel further to a new class and giving up my regular class as it may attract more teachers if it is within easy access.

In the TRS office we are talkative. We do love a good gossip. As we’re all dancers/teachers, we’re good at multitasking. It is very often we’re all chatting away while not looking at each other, working. We are all supportive and help to guide each other through difficult situations and offer advice and guidance, whether it be a home or work situation. We each have each other for support and that is what makes this a good office team.

My favourite thing about working in the TRS office is working with people who feel like my second family. The Right Step have the family feel where everyone wants to help each other, we all give positive vibes to each other whether it is with dance or non-dance related topics within our group chats, and we all try to meet up when we can, whether it be a sharing day or a meal out.

My least favourite thing about working in the TRS office is not being able to use multicolours when doing office things, I love making my writing vibrant and colourful. Since working in the office, I have learnt that not everyone likes multicolours on documents.

I would not be where I am today without the TRS office staff. Thank you for everything.

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Is My Dance Teacher Qualified?

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How do you know if a dance teacher is qualified and experienced enough to teach what you’ve asked them for? Unfortunately,  the answer is complicated. There are many routes into dance teaching, just as there are many dance styles. In this blog post I will help you decide whether your dance teacher, or prospective dance teacher is suitable. This will also help trainee teachers work out what route they want to take for their career.
 
A combination off all of the following will make for a well-rounded dance teacher. A qualification alone doesn’t necessarily mean a good teacher and, as with all teaching, personality and passion are also a big factors!
 

Qualifications

In most professions these are the key to discovering someone’s suitability. In dance they go a long way to doing so, but you need to points 2 to 4 in mind as well.
 
If you want a class to lead to dance exams  you will need someone who has qualified with the relevant governing body. For community dance and creative dance you are much better off with someone who has a dance degree or, better yet, a DTALL. For dance with specialist groups such as older adults or people with disabilities a dance teacher should have further training in addition to their degree. This is normally part of their Continued Professional Development (CPD), but it could have been a specific part of their degree or as a qualification such as Green Candle Dance Company’s Diploma. For cross-curricular dance look for a degree as well as experience or training related to the curriculum because this is a very creative discipline that involves thinking outside the box as well as dance talent.
 
Examples of qualifications held by TRS Teachers are – BA (Hons) Degrees and Masters Degrees in dance, various dance teaching qualifications from ISTD, RAD etc.
 

Experience

Once a dance artist gains their initial qualification, they will need to start to gain experience.
 
This could be from a structured course such as Loop Dance Company’s DASP (Dance Artist Support Programme) or by going to another teachers’ lessons for observations and team teaching. At The Right Step we have teachers who have taken both routes. Neither is better than the other because both are so varied and everybody learns differently. Many teachers do a combination of both. It is at this stage that the dance artists discover their passions and focus their teaching. The more classes a teacher experiences, the better.
 
Excellent dance teachers will always be learning from and inspired by their peers and we have a mentoring programme to help teachers progress.
 

Legislation

Unfortunately there are surprisingly few things that a dance teacher must legally have and, unless they belong to a governing body or are teaching for a larger company such as TRS, there is probably no one to check up on them. That doesn’t mean dance teachers working alone don’t have what’s needed though. It just means the place they’re working in needs to check for it. If the class is outside of an organisation such as a school or care home, parents and participants should ask the dance teacher for the relevant things.
 
Every dance teacher must have a DBS check to work with children, even whilst gaining experience and not yet teaching themselves. Public Liability Insurance is just as important. If the dance teacher is working for you via a larger company, that company must hold sufficient Employer’s Liability Insurance. It is not sufficient for only one of these insurances to be in place.
 
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is relatively new, but all dance teachers must be compliant. In addition to the TRS compliance documents, the TRS Teachers also have their own. 
 
Though there aren’t many legal requirements, there are lots of things that are good practice, and looking for these things is more likely to lead you to someone meeting higher teaching standards within class as well.
 
A good dance teacher will have First Aid training and Child Safeguarding Training. Safeguarding of Vulnerable Adults (SOVA) training is also available. These training sessions are good for the safety of their participants and the teachers themselves. They also provide teachers with the knowledge of procedures they should have in place.
 
An excellent dance teacher might also be a member of a governing body such as People Dancing and will have Policy and Procedure documents (inc. Risk assessments). Many of the TRS Teachers are members of organisations. The TRS Teachers don’t need their own policy and procedure documents for the work they do for The Right Step because they use ours.
 

Continued Professional Development (CPD)

Dance Teachers should always be learning and experiencing new things. The dance world is every changing and to be an excellent teacher they must stay current and inspired. To do this an excellent dance teacher will go to workshops, take short courses and do dance class for themselves. This is all at a cost to them and is one of the things that means an excellent dance teacher should be paid more.
 
The list of CPD is endless and ever-changing so it is difficult to know what is good to see on a CV. You can ask for certificates, check the course background (such as course provider and whether it is accredited) and ask the dance teacher what they learnt from it.
 
CPD helps dance teachers specialise. A dance teacher is best if they are able to teach where their passion lies.
 
CPD is essential in the dance world for learning more about specialist subjects such dance with specific mental health conditions, dance with neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s or dance in education such as cross-curricular dance. This is because their aren’t enough specialist accredited courses and, if there are, they are often very costly. A dance teacher has to balance their earning and their learning. If they are not paid enough, they are unable to continue to learn.
 
CPD doesn’t always have to be dance specific, it can inform practice, such as Chair Based Exercise Training or the Exercise to Music course. The Active Armchairs facilitators are Dementia Friends and this helps them support the people they work with in the right way. 
 
 
 
At The Right Step we strive for high quality dance for everyone. This means we keep our prices reasonable, paying the dance teachers fairly, and we support them in their careers. We work with trainee dance teachers at Level One right through to highly experienced practitioners at Level Three. We have progression routes for their careers and support them with our mentorship programme, annual reviews and celebrations of success. We are always welcoming new members to the team and if someone would like to get in touch they can find their local branch by clicking HERE
 

My Week at TRS

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Written by Emma Godden

As a final year dance student at The University of Surrey, I knew it was time to venture into the big wide world and what better way to do this than by gaining experience of how a professional dance company works. There is nothing more nervous than starting a new job, but with the help of Programme Director, Rebecca Ashton, she made it more than welcoming. As I have never worked in a dance company, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The atmosphere throughout the office was very inviting, and whilst being introduced to other members in the office, I slowly became more relaxed and confident.

Once discovering the ins and outs of the company and what classes they teach, I helped Rebecca plan an Active Armchairs session, with the theme of 80 days around the world. Active Armchairs is a session based around seated dance classes, with all choreography specially designed for the participants. Later that day, I ventured out of the office to one of the many care homes TRS teach at within the Medway area, Heatherdale Nursing Home. Being the first Active Armchairs session I went to, I aimed to see how it was run. One key aspect that I picked up, was the positive attitude Steph (the class leader) had throughout the entire session, remaining calm, inviting and praised all the participants continuously. Observing her was a joy and has benefited me massively when discovering teaching styles.

The following day, after joining in at another Active Armchairs session at Winchester House, I went to Miers Court Primary School to meet Rebecca. Aimed at Year Five for this term, a Cross-Curricular class helps benefit the students by engaging them within dance and movement, whilst learning about a particular topic. For this term the topic is the solar system. Rebecca ran through her class structure, the outcomes for the term and the activities that will be undertaken throughout each class. Seeing how Rebecca planned ahead, and had the classes prepared and laid out, was a real eye-opener, as you don’t usually see what happens behind the scenes.

20160107_101850On Thursday, I had few hours spent in the office. I was set the task to arrange the endless amount of props within the company, by counting them, taking pictures and then placing the information into a spreadsheet. Having this list allows for the company to easily discover what
props they have and how many of each prop are available, before trying to find them.

If I was to sum up my week here at The Right Step Dance Company, I would firstly like to say that it has been a friendly welcome into the Company. All the staff, which I have had the pleasure of meeting, have opened up and taught me many aspects of the working life within the Company. It has been a pleasure to meet a range of people, and it has been such an eye opener to how a company works, whilst being fun and at times a good laugh. You never quite know how much work and effort it takes to run a Dance Company, let alone working within one, and therefore I am very grateful for Rebecca and the rest of the staff for allowing me to join for the week, with a positive and welcoming atmosphere.

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